Finding Q - The Superfecta of Hiring

Hiring a great person is not easy. There are just too many variables to consider. However, if you do the math, you'll discover that the best jobs and the best people are at point "Q" in Peter Yu's cool graph. This is the optimum hiring decision where cost is reasonable, quality is highest, time to fill is short, interview accuracy is about perfect and the job is a great move for the candidate.
Q The Hiring Superfecta

Achieving "Q" represents the superfecta of hiring where everybody wins: The hiring manager, the candidate, the recruiter and the company .

The first step in getting to "Q" is classifying job seekers into one of these four primary buckets:

The known: People you know personally.

As long as the job is similar, interviewing accuracy would will be high and time to fill is fast for people you know and who are available. However, they might not be the best people for the job. These people frequently get hired for the wrong reasons, typically the pressure to fill the job is more important than their ability to do excel in it.

The semi-known: The people who are well- known by people who are well-known to you.

In networking terms these second degree connections are called "weak connections." This is the sweet spot for top talent. By asking people whom you know, "Who are the best people you know doing (describe the real job)?" you'll find a few great people. Of course, you'll need to recruit these people since it's unlikely they'll be actively looking for a new job. However, if you can hire these people in a timely fashion AND they find the job a true career move, getting to "Q" will be possible.

The less- well- known: The people who are well-known by someone you could get to know.

By connecting to co-workers in your company whom you don't know, you'll be able to tap into a huge source of top talent. For example, to find top engineers connect with product marketing managers working in a related field. Using LinkedIn Recruiter you can then search on their connections to "cherry pick" some ideal prospects. Then ask the product managers to qualify the person and ask if the person would find the job a career move. If so, contact and recruit these people. This adds some time to the process but they represent a great pool of talent for achieving "Q."

The unknown: The people who typically respond to job postings who are not connected to anyone in your company.

There are too many unknowns with this unknown group to easily get to "Q." While you shouldn't discount the best of this group, don't spend too much time here since they often take extra time to find and the assessment accuracy is less predictable.

Getting Closer to "Q"

In terms of achieving a state of "Q," it's pretty clear that the best candidates are those who are your connections' connections. However, this doesn't mean that the open job represents a career move for the person. This is the next step in the process.

Maximize job satisfaction and performance.

A career move for any top tier person needs to provide a 30% non-monetary increase. As shown in the the graphic this consists of some combination of a bigger and/or more important job, a mix of more satisfying work plus faster growth. None of this can be figured out using traditional skills-laden job descriptions.

When I take a search assignment I ask the hiring manager to define the work as a series of performance objectives. For example, "Lead the development of a driverless lawn tractor using state-of-the art satellite-based GPS in combination with GLisp and AI." During the interview I dig into the person's comparable accomplishments to determine if the person can do the work, is motivated by it and if the job offers a 30% non-monetary increase. Obviously if the person can do the work he/she has all of the skills necessary. Using this type of performance-based interview is how you maximize interviewing accuracy, improve job fit and increase quality of hire.

Achieving "Q"

As long as you first prepare a roadmap - the performance-based job description - finding "Q" is a realistic objective. However, without knowing what the person needs to do to be successful you'll never arrive. From a sourcing perspective you'll then need to spend most of your time getting referrals of the semi-knowns - your connections' connections. Too often we hire people we know despite their flaws since it's fast and easy or hire the best person who applies.

However, if you resist the temptation to take shortcuts you'll arrive at "Q." The people you hire will be the best available, they'll be highly satisfied and perform at peak levels, interviewing accuracy will be insane, and you'll reduce time to hire to the lowest level possible. That's the superfecta of hiring. You don't even need to do the math.

A High Touch Idea for Reshaping the Entire Hiring Industry

When everyone has the same recruiting tools, uses the same job boards and has access to the same candidates, everyone will get average results. That’s what happens when everyone uses a follow-the-leader talent strategy. I call this hiring's Catch-22 based on the idea you won't get in trouble by following rather than leading. The concept is fully described in the video.

For proof consider that despite all of the new high-tech hiring tools developed in the past 10-20 years, overall quality of hire has not improved. Under these conditions the drivers of which company will hire the strongest people will be based on the capability of the recruiters involved, the quality of the positions being offered and the quality of the hiring managers doing the hiring.

Understanding the importance of these high touch factors starts by understanding how the strongest candidates compare job offers and accept one over another. Specifically:

  • First, the best candidates accept jobs from hiring managers in their own image, not the other way around. For proof just ask the best people you know how important the hiring manager was as their reason for accepting or rejecting a job offer.
  • Two, the best candidates refuse to take ill-defined lateral transfers unless they come with dramatic pay increases. Unfortunately, this is why many good people get hired for jobs that turn out to be unsatisfying. For proof, just ask the best people you know if it’s the content of the job or the compensation that drives their daily performance, motivation and satisfaction.

So rather than offering better jobs and making their hiring managers fully responsible for the people they hire, companies continue to offer empty jobs, post skills-infested job descriptions and offer unnecessary salary premiums to entice the best people to accept their offers. Using this short-term approach to solve a long-term problem is counterproductive as new hires quickly become disenchanted when the actual work proves unsatisfying.

The core problem is that too many companies emphasize hiring active candidateswho are skills and experienced qualified using an impersonal high-tech process. This approach targets a very narrow segment of the entire total talent market, 5-15% at most. To attract the best people in the entire talent market you need a high touch approach.

The Strongest Candidates are Not Interested in Lateral Transfers

To attract the strongest candidates you first need to fully understand the workthat needs to be performed. The difference in what the person is now doing and what the new job offers represents the career move. An excessive pay increase becomes unnecessary when shifting to this type of performance qualifiedattraction and assessment process. The trade-off in compensation comes from increased growth, more impact, more satisfying work and faster learning. This is what esteemed Harvard Professor Todd Rose describes in his new best-selling book, The End of Average, as the key difference between hiring average people and hiring remarkable ones.

Top Candidates Need to be Recruited, Not Just Identified

Whether active or passive the strongest people need to be identified, attracted, assessed, wooed and nurtured. This requires a combination of aggressive networking and a targeted outbound marketing campaign to identify a small pool of highly qualified prospects. The tipping point in all this is overcoming their initial concerns and convincing them the job you’re offering provides a 30% non-monetary increase. As described below, this is what I consider a career move.

Creating the Career Move Requires a Consultative Recruiting Process

The short definition of a career move is a job that offers more satisfaction thanthe compensation. To prove this, recruiters and hiring managers in partnership need to convince the best candidates their job provides a 30% non-monetary increase. This is some combination of a bigger job, faster job growth, more impact and increased job satisfaction. This requires multiple meetings and interviews spread out over a week or two. This is how you ensure the candidate is both competent and motivated to do the actual work that needs to be done.

Make Sure You Have the Right Talent Strategy

A follow-the-leader strategy driven by more high-tech won’t improve quality of hire. Doing the wrong things more efficiently is the cause of the problem, not the solution. Reversing the trend starts by recognizing you can’t use a talent strategy designed to weed out the below average to attract and hire the above average. Surprisingly, spending more time with fewer candidates doesn’t take more time or cost more. It just takes better jobs, better recruiters, and better managers who are willing to invest the same amount of time doing the right things. This strategy emphasizes more high touch. It’s different, but you’ll soon discover what a difference it can make.

Rethink Hiring From Z to A by Offering Everyone a 30% Increase

When it comes to hiring for quality, less is actually more.

Let me prove it with a rather radical proposal that starts with the premise that you only need 15-20 passive candidates to make one great hire. The key to success with this idea is that you need to carefully select the 15-20 people on your target list, persist and talk with at least 75% of them, and then convince them you’ll give them a 30% increase.

It’s as simple as that.

However, to muck things up a bit, the 30% increase is non-monetary. To muck things up even more your hiring manager has to agree to NOT use the traditional skills and competency-laden job description as part of the selection criteria.

Accepting this concept requires a change in the paradigm underlying the sourcing process used at most companies today. This is pictured in the graphic. It subdivides the talent market into three sub-groups.

People in the top tier are represented by the upper segment. The teardrop represents the typical mix of people who apply to posted jobs or follow a company. This includes a few highly qualified people, many somewhat qualified people and a large group of unqualified people. The small “A” circle represents the 15-20 prospects you’ve identified on LinkedIn who are in the top 25% and would consider your opening a career move.

Changing the hiring paradigm – Less is more

Here are the basic steps we advise our clients to take to implement this process:

1. Define the context of the job by preparing a performance-based job description.

Every job can be described as a series of 6-8 performance objectives, like, “Upgrade the financial reporting system to track daily operating performance.” This is better than saying, “Must have a Big 4 CPA, 5+ years of manufacturing experience and an MBA.” Aperformance-based job description is the baseline for demonstrating the job represents a 30% increase.

2. Develop a short list of high potential prospects.

LinkedIn Recruiter is a great tool for finding local, high-achieving candidates who have slightly less experience than typical for the job. By combining Achiever terms (awards, great schools, strong companies, special recognition, etc.) with LinkedIn Recruiter’s powerful search filters, it’s not hard to develop this list in a few hours.

3. PERP your ERP.

By proactively searching on your co-workers’ connections you can get more prequalified A-team referrals. These types of referrals should comprise about half of your short list of prospects.

4. Shoot for a 75% campaign response rate.

This is a critical make/break objective. Since you’re only working with a few pre-selected prospects, you need to engage with most of them. This requires a series of emails and voice mails combined with an extra dose of persistence. The goal is relatively easy to achieve, though, if many of the people have been referred.

5. Use consultative recruiting to determine the possibility of a 30% increase.

When you get the prospect on the phone, don’t pitch your job. Instead present the purpose of your call as an exploratory discussion about a possible career move. While you’re reviewing the person’s LinkedIn profile, look for at least a 30% difference between your opening and what the person has accomplished. To get to 30% you’ll need a combination of job stretch (bigger job), more impact, faster job growth and a mix of more satisfying work.

6. Recruiting is not selling the job; it’s getting the candidate to sell you.

Your objective with each person you contact on your target list is to determine if the job you’re trying to fill represents a true career move or not. If so, explain the possible components of the 30% non-monetary increase. As part of this, suggest the job might be too big a job and test this by asking the person to describe some challenging stretch project.

If you’ve set up the situation properly, the person will excitedly tell you what she/he has accomplished and why the job you’re representing could be interesting. This is how you get candidates to sell you -  by first selling themselves on the career merits of your opening.

When it comes to recruiting for quality, less is more. The idea is to spend more time recruiting a very short list of pre-selected prospects. Done properly, quality of hire will increase along with improved performance, reduced turnover and increased job satisfaction. That’s hiring from Z to A.

A Hiring Manager's Do-It-Yourself Guide to Recruiting

The Uberizing of the hiring process has arrived. Forget about using recruiters if you're hiring only a few people per year. With LinkedIn, hiring managers can now do their own sourcing and recruiting. Unless the recruiter is deeply networked in the field, managers will likely do a much better job by going solo. Here's how to get started.

1. Define the work to be done, not the skills needed to do it.

To attract top people looking for career moves, you'll need to define the job as a series of four or five major performance objectives. For example, it's better to say "build a team of six engineers to launch the new ABC project" than "Must have a BSEE, 10+ years of experience in servo valves, and 3-4 years in a supervisory role."

2. Conduct a supply vs. demand analysis to determine if you can do it yourself.

You'll need to use LinkedIn to do this. I'd suggest starting with a premium account and if it doesn't give you access to enough people, upgrade to LinkedIn Recruiter Lite. To determine if there are enough candidates to choose from, divide the total number of possible candidates you have access to by the number of similar open jobs. If the ratio if greater than 4:1, you can probably do it yourself.

3. Use Achiever search terms to bring top performers to the top of your search list.

As you use LinkedIn's powerful search tools, add terms that match what top people in your field would likely include on their LinkedIn profile. For example, a top math person would likely be a member of the Pi Mu Epsilon honor society, a top sales rep would include such words as quota, club, or 100% in his/her profile, and a strong team player would likely have the terms like coach or mentor listed. By adding more of these Achiever terms, you'll be able to quickly develop a list of 20 to 30 strong local prospects to email and call.

4. Tap into your co-workers' connections.

LinkedIn is a network of 400 million people--not just a database of them. Your co-workers or former associates likely know some top people who could fill your role. Don't ask, "Who's looking?" Instead ask, "Who's the best person you know doing _____?" Then ask them to call the person to see if he/she would be open to a short exploratory call.

5. Determine the Employee Value Proposition (EVP).

If you don't know why a top person would want your job in terms of the impact he/she can make and the growth opportunity inherent in the job, you won't attract or hire any. The EVP needs to lead your voice mails, emails, and job postings.

6. Focus on job branding over employer branding.

Tie the job to some company project or mission to demonstrate its importance. This is called job branding. It's a critical component of how top people compare opportunities and how you customize the job to better tie to the person's intrinsic motivators.

7. Use emails to tell stories.

You'll be sending out 20 to 30 emails to the best people you've found on LinkedIn. Aside from a creative subject line, describe why the job is important, what the person will be learning and doing, and where the job could lead if the person is successful.

8. Don't sell the job, sell a short chat.

Forget about having candidates apply directly. Instead, in your email mention that the first step in your process is a short 10- to 15-minute exploratory phone conversation to determine if the job offers the possibility of a significant career move. By slowing the process down, you'll dramatically increase your response rate since most people are always open to building stronger networks.

9. Offer a potential 30 percent non-monetary increase.

The purpose of the phone screen is to determine if your position offers a combined 30 percent increase in job stretch, job growth, and satisfying work. If it does, describe why and suggest that the next step is a more detailed phone interview.

10. Conduct a 45-minute phone-based interview.

Describe some of your big challenges and have the person describe some of his/her most significant comparable accomplishments. Using the most significant accomplishment question, you can assess most of the factors on our Performance-based Hiring Job Index. If the person is a contender and interested, either meet the person for coffee or invite the person onsite.

While there's more to finding, recruiting, and hiring the best passive candidates, these steps form the foundation of the process. Most important, when hiring managers do it themselves, they'll be able to restructure the job on the fly, more likely to pursue a high-potential person with less experience, and less likely to exclude a great person on factors that are negotiable. Collectively, this is why I believe the Uberizing of the hiring process offers a great opportunity for hiring managers who want to be sure they see and hire the best person available, not just the best person who applies.

How to Uncover the Four Best Predictors of Success in 30 Minutes

Over the past 40 years I’ve interviewed thousands of candidates for staff level jobs to senior executives and tracked the performance of hundreds of them.

After a few years it quickly became apparent that a 30-45 minute work history review revealed four great predictors of on-the-job success. As long as the following four conditions were present I was comfortable recommending the candidate for further interviewing. Of course, further evaluation was essential but it turned out as long as the four factors were present the likelihood of the candidate being a finalist was extremely high.


Determine Job Fit Based on Comparable Accomplishments

Obviously going through the person’s resume reveals a lot about whether the person is a basic fit for the job. But of critical importance is the person’s most significant accomplishments. During the work history review I dig into the one that best compares to what the person will be doing in the new position.

The focus of this is on the scope of the project, span of control, size of the budget, reporting relationships, complexity of the work and the results achieved. For example, for a Director of Accounting at a major corporation I recommended a manager at a Big 4 accounting firm since she had implemented robust reporting systems at Fortune 200 companies leading teams of 10-20 people. This was the primary objective of the job, so the fit was perfect.

Potential is Revealed through the Achiever Pattern

The Achiever Pattern indicates the candidate is in the top 25% of their peer group. The idea is that people in the top 25% at different companies and at different jobs are likely to continue to be in the top 25% in the new job. Since these are the people who continue to take on more challenging projects and get promoted more quickly, the Achiever Pattern is a good indicator of potential.

Each position has different criteria to meet the top 25% standard but they all have some. For example, for sales positions look for people who have a track record of always making quota. The best staff level people in all functions are assigned more challenging projects soon after starting a new job. The best managers seek out and are given more challenging management assignments. The best team players are assigned to more important multi-functional teams.

While this is only a short list, the idea is to use the work history review to find out where the candidate has been recognized for doing superior work, whether it’s an award, a promotion, special bonus or an important assignment.

Career Motivation Can be Determined Based on How Job Changes were Decided

Why people change jobs is an important clue to how motivated the person is career wise. Always ask candidates why they moved from one company to another and if the move accomplished its purpose. For the best people these moves are typically part of a bigger career plan and are not made superficially. While they don’t often work out as planned, most times they do. Look for people who are concerned about making an impact, developing their skills and finding more satisfying work.

For example, I challenged one candidate who made a decision to accept a job that was closer to home, had a slightly better title, and offered a bit more money, but was in a decaying industry. When I pointed this out to him he rejected this job and accepted the other better long-term offer. He called a year later thanking me for the advice after he got a huge promotion.

The Size of the Opportunity Gap Predicts Engagement and Performance

A good career move requires a 30% non-monetary increase. This is the opportunity gap. It’s the sum of the increases in job stretch (bigger job), job growth (faster rate of increase) and job satisfaction (doing more satisfying work). If the stretch part of the gap is too great, the chance of failure increases, but if the gap is non-existent, dissatisfaction and underperformance is likely. The opportunity gap is determined by what the person has accomplished compared to what the new position offers.

Most recruiters and hiring managers can’t even figure out the size of the opportunity gap since the job is ill-defined. In this case money becomes the primary criteria to accept an offer or not. This is a great predictor that the person will underperform.

Take the Time to Find These Four Predictors

When the person is a good fit for the job, possesses the Achiever Pattern, has a track record of making good career decisions and the job offers a true career move, it’s likely the person will be a serious candidate for your job. What’s surprising is that much of this can be figured out in a 30-45 minute work history review. What’s more surprising is that most interviewers won’t take the time to do it.